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Michael Dillon

Michael Dillon, the first person known to have transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male, faced challenges similar to many transgender pioneers, celebrities, and other figures of media interest. In particular, the media in 1959 took interest in his medical and romantic history in ways that were invasive, sensationalist and dehumanizing -- in particular embracing the story of his unrequited love for Roberta Cowell.

Dillon, who had already inspired religio-philosophical exchanges with leaders as diverse as Anglican priests and teachers of Therevada and Tibetan Buddhism, retreated to Kalimpong, India, to seek refuge in Buddhist monasteries from such exposure.

In addition to his historic medical transition, Dillon went on to pen pioneering writings at the intersection of ethics, medicine, biology, religion, philosophy, and transsexuality.

His pursuit of ordination in the Theravadan tradition was thwarted by a mentor who believed Dillon's gender history disqualified him from ordination. Dillon was seeking full ordination in Tibetan Buddhism upon his death in 1962.  He had just sent his autobiography, Out of the Ordinary, to his literary agent, days before his death and it has not yet been published.

Credit: Cameron Partridge, Chris Paige

On the Web

Michael Dillon (in social sciences)

Michael Dillon (in literature)

by Cameron Partridge, published by glbtq.com: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture

Michael Dillon

in Wikipedia.com


On the Bookshelf

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution
by Pagan Kennedy, 2006

Michael, née Laura: The World's First Female to Male Transsexual
by Liz Hodgkinson, 1989

The Transfaith Story
Tell a Friend!

Buddhist, Theravadan and Tibetan
(Dillon was also known as Lobzang Jivaka)

 ''I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference.''
~ Tammy Baldwin


Books by Michael Dillon

Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology (1946) - The first medico-legal treatise on transsexuality

Growing Up into Buddhism (1960) - an effort to make Buddhism accessible to young people

The Life of Milarepa (1962) - a condensed biography of twelfth-century Tibetan monk Jetsun Milarepa

Imji Getsul (1962) - the story of Dillon's months at the remote Rizong monastery in Ladakh

Out of the Ordinary (unpublished autobiography)